Clearing Brush

We’re out here again, clearing
the stone walls of this shrunken
18th-century farm buried in a green tangle
of grapevines, fallen trees,
spirea and nettles, and those
tough-to-kill plumes of life rising again
from one-year-old stumps.
I run the brush saw, you a weed whacker.
Gloved hands, deer flies, briar
and poison ivy: always our dead son
in our minds as we lop, cut, and pile
the brush all summer; each October,
when the day of his death arrives,
we burn the mound we’ve built.
The shadows get longer,
the sun slipping lower in the sky
as we rip out the roots of a Rugosa rose.
This we have some control over,
at least temporarily, the lien of grief
paid down by the sweat of our work,
exhaustion our goal. And pleasure,
this end of day standing together
in the softened late gold light.
We look down a length of cleared wall,
fallen stones dug out, restacked,
and visible again, as if the past
we’d begun to lose sight of over time
had been uncovered once more.